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April 28, 2010

The Rudd Labor Government still plans to introduce a massive new tax that would cost up to 3000 jobs in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley, according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester said the Labor Party’s decision to defer the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) until at least 2013, only amounted to a ‘stay of execution’.

“The ETS isn’t dead yet,” Mr Chester said.

“Prime Minister Rudd has only acted to defer the legislation because he is afraid of holding an election on this issue.

“It’s only a stay of execution – jobs will be killed off in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley in the future if the Labor Party has the opportunity to introduce this scheme.

“The only reason the ETS has been delayed is The Nationals led the opposition in Federal Parliament to prevent the bill passing the Senate on two occasions last year.”

Mr Chester said the Rudd Government had failed to explain the impacts of the ETS to the most-affected communities in Australia.

“An independent report commissioned by Wellington Shire Council last year found that the legislation proposed by the Labor Party would cost 3000 jobs in the region over the next 15 years,” Mr Chester said.

“International Power executives have warned that up to 500 jobs could go at the Hazelwood Power Station if the scheme was introduced in its current form and other power generators have also warned about reductions in maintenance as a result of the uncertainty created by Kevin Rudd.

“The simple fact remains that the Prime Minister has failed to explain the ETS and has attempted to con the public into believing that it amounts to significant action to improve the global environment.

“I voted against the ETS on two occasions in the House of Representatives last year because I remained concerned about the economic impact on major power generators along with families, small businesses, farmers and exporters.

“Acting to impose this massive new tax on Australians without any commitment from our trading partners to do the same thing would place our economy at a significant disadvantage.

“Now the Prime Minister is saying the same thing – it would be foolish to implement a scheme without a commitment from other countries to do likewise.
“It’s time for the Prime Minister to be honest with the Australian public. I have continually challenged the Labor Party to send a Cabinet Minister to the Latrobe Valley to release the detailed economic modelling which forecasts the likely impacts on jobs and the cost of living in regional communities.

“Gippsland is at the pointy end of this debate. We have thousands of jobs associated with the power industry; oil and gas production; agriculture and small business. It is critical that the community is told the truth about the economic costs of this new tax.

“Given that our nation’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is just 1.4%, it is ridiculous for the Prime Minister to continually claim that he is taking action to ‘save’ natural icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu.

“There is no Australian solution to the environmental challenges we face and it is dangerous for any Australian Government to jeopardise our international competitiveness when there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the world economy.”

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